Recent analysis of a 2012 NHS survey by two LSE students has revealed just how worrying the treatment of elderly inpatients has become. Their research, based on a survey of 60,000 inpatients in 2012/13, shows that 23% of respondents (equivalent to 2.8 million people annually) stated that they experienced poor or inconsistent standards of dignity, of whom one million were patients aged 65 and over.
The findings show that more than one in three (38%) patients who needed help eating did not receive it while 45% of those over 80 years old who needed assistance were often left without it. Findings showed female inpatients were more likely to suffer than men, and those who were blind, deaf or partially sighted were the most likely to suffer.
Polly Vizard of LSE‘s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion highlights the fact there has been remarkably little change in the percentage of those reporting poor standards of care over a substantial period of time. This conclusion was drawn after evaluating records from surveys tracking back seven years.
It is clear that something needs to be done to address this issue. Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, told The Guardian that such problems are caused because many older people suffer in silence and do not complain for numerous reasons, including the fear of their care being adversely affected, being regarded as a difficult patient or from a pure sense of gratitude for the care.
However, although the findings are concerning, Age UK told the BBC that "It must be recognised that the data this research is based on is two years old now and that the newest figures suggest some welcome improvement.”
Despite this, it is clear such improvement is not enough as Professor Edward Baker, Deputy Chief Inspector of hospitals at the CQC told The Guardian: “This (improvement) is not the case in every hospital.”
Helen Hammond, associate in the clinical negligence team, with a special interest in claims brought relating to the care of the elderly, said: “I have represented numerous elderly individuals and their families following failures in their care, often resulting in painful pressure sores, most of which have been contributed to by general issues with basic standards of care, such as nutrition and hydration. I hope that these figures draw attention to the continuing issues that exist and encourage changes to improve standards of care for the elderly overall."